Apr 27, 2006

World Peace Begins from Within

  • Author: Aliaa Rafea
  • CPWR Peace Conference in Barcelona 2004

By: Aliaa R. Rafea

The self, who is manifested in the earthly existence, is like “clay”. It is so dense that you can never see what is inside the “pottery”. But if it is melted and made so delicately see-through it becomes transparent like clear crystal. It is no longer a veil that hinders you from seeing the Light of God within.


At that dark moment of our history where destruction of natural environment and killing innocent people become common practices, citizens of the world are committed to search for means to stop the killings of souls, and create world culture that brings peace to that miserable world.[1]
Our aspirations is not just to talk on peace , but they are about changing the world culture; they are about discussing how to educate ourselves and others to cultivate peace within. “Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, and justice.”[2] It is meant to address people to take necessary steps to play a role in creating a new world culture that uproot hatred, prejudice and prideful superiority from the heart of the citizens or the world.

Sources of Negative Emotions

Let us see where negative emotions come from.
First:  Prejudice and prideful superiority are manifestations of limited approach to the meaning of life. Those negative emotions tarnished the heart with dark energies and are experienced as unrest and fear on the psychic level. It is through fear that we allow aggression to occur. It is because of fear and threat; terrorists are blindly hearting and killing innocent souls. When we loose peace in our heart, we tend to attack others.  
Second: In our world, the spiritual environment is full of negative energy and it calls for the ego to grow, and competitions to take place, destructions of others to be justified. In such an environment, the task of purification is real struggle.
Third:  Many people are veiled from experiencing life within. Therefore, the small ego takes the leisure of enforcing hatred and nourishing pride and prejudice. Further, the ego constrains the purification of the heart; it separates human being from their origin of existence, from nature and from their other fellow human beings. By so doing the ego prevents spiritual energy taking its natural development; it may get rotten and die. Souls that are tormented as a result of hatred, greed, and other negative emotions are worse of pitying.
Fourth: Humans in our modern time are confused, and unable to understand the differences between personal growth and egoistic approach. Egoistic approach hinders our personal growth because it limits our energy. It directs it to serve the narrow circle of individual interests. Most energy is lost in competition and worry.  Personal growth is seen as part of collective processes where goodness of others becomes a person’s prime goal. Channels of loving heart and peaceful mind overwhelm one’s existence and multiply one’s energy
It is a common mistake among nations of the world to educate people in a way that magnify the ego. As such, jealousy, greed, and violence are left to destroy inner peace.  That is to say, human beings loose their way in cultivating inner peace because they are indoctrinated from the very early period in their life as children to emphasize their separation from the whole under the theme of individuality on various levels;
  • On  personal level, where Y is better than S
  • On cultural level: My culture is the best in the world
  • On National level: My country is the best country.
  • On the universal level, modernization, and civilization become synonymous with westernization, overlooking the richness of cultural variations. Other ideologies also compete to prove that they are compatible.  
On these levels, it is remarkable that there is a shared focus where stress is laid on ‘me’ and ‘you’; or ‘us’ against ‘others’.  According to that stand, conflicts became the nature of things, and so our small ego is called to attack others as a strategy of defense. Security is lost and fear prevails. Consequently, inner peace becomes hard to attain.
Because we carry negative emotions towards the others, we tend to project our own images on them. For us, they are aggressors, violent, and they hate us. This dark energy nourishes dark sides in groups involved. And we turn on vicious circle. That is how war against terrorism declared by the United States of America became itself a terror, and how the Middle East conflict seem to be with no end, and that is why there are boiling spots in different parts of the world.
Emphasizing our separateness from one another, from our Originator reflects ignorance of who we really are.

How to bring peace in our hearts:

To bring peace to our hearts, Gandhi advised us to “recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man who we may have seen and ask ourselves if the step we contemplate will be of any use to him. Will it lead to help the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Than doubts and uneasiness will melt away”
I read that previous statement as a prescription that Gandhi gave to help us remove barriers between ourselves and others. We cannot experience inner peace and spread it outwardly unless we realize that we are part of one another irregardless of, and beyond religions, races, and cultures. That is the first step to bringing peace in our hearts.  There are many evidences that enforce that idea of being part of one another. We are connected on historical, psychological and spiritual dimensions.
On the historical level, when we bring to our awareness how the struggle of humans from the early period of history led to our civilization today, we will realize how much we are indebted to one another. Civilization did not belong to one nation, it was moving from one place to another; from Egypt to Greece, to the Islamic Civilization. From there, it came back to Europe and then to America. Now, the world makes use of Eastern Civilizations; Yoga, and Chinese old wisdom spread in the whole world. When we uncover the layers of history that have been built through thousands of years, we will be surprised to see how we are part of one another. Gratitude to our ancestors helps open our hearts and make us work for our off spring to bring them a peaceful and more prosperous world.
On the psychological level, the Swiss psychologist C.J. Jung introduced to our knowledge what he called collective consciousness, as well as collective unconsciousness. Both concepts explain as well as demonstrate how we humans are connected beyond our own intellectual awareness. Ideas do not only fly through known means of communication, but they do because we have collective consciousness. Our dreams do not represent merely our personal psych activities, but they also connected to the level of collective unconsciousness.  Being aware that we are not alone in the world, and that others share with us ideas and dreams, will encourage us to work for the betterment of the world.
On the spiritual level, the more we are in harmony with the purpose of our existence, the more we are able to take messages from our inner Self, and the more we realize that human beings are endowed with divine source that link them to one another. That realization widens our scope and enables us to see beyond our limited interests.
Second: We cannot experience inner peace unless we nurture our spiritual core, that divine part within our own existence which is called by different wordings in different revelations. It is called the primordial nature, the Self (with capital S), the inner messenger, or inner voice. Unless we awaken this divinity within, it is hard to be able to live in harmony, to listen, to understand and to tolerate differences. All revelations address that divine part within and enforce its awakening. That was not done for the pleasure that one would experience on the individual level, rather, that awakening would make humans close to one another, sympathize and empathize with each other. They would find great pleasure in serving and helping and spreading love and peace. In other words, purifying the heart from negative energies is a process which is cultivated through spiritual training as well as good deeds.
Third: Empowering the energy of love through giving from the bottom of one’s heart provides peaceful environment and resist counter hatred. Through services, the inner self will experience peace. The inner divinity is the core around which our growth takes place, it is parallel to the germ within the seed; it is only activated when it is exposed to water, and it continues to take its life circle, when it finds the fertile soil. As much as we share the existence of the seed of life within each individual person, we lack watering and implanting it. Once the germ start to get activated, it get out from the outer surface, it peels the cover of the seed, and starts to grow in continuous processes. The germ goes in a journey of growing where it produces beautiful flowers, and the flowers produce fruit. So the plant goes to the process of growth, penetrating the limits and culminating its circle by sharing with the world the fruits of growth. Fruits contain the secrets of continuity. It is only when they are eaten, seeds become available to reproduce, and go throw another cycle of life. That is to say when humans give themselves to serve sublime causes, their limited ego vanishes and their soul takes over to rejuvenate their existence. They are able to face hatred with love, and darkness with light. Giving, sharing, connecting, enhance spiritual growth of the individuals, and make life worth living.

 How to bring peace to the World

Once we bring peace to our hearts by contributing to the goodness of other, the journey of brining the peace to the world starts to take place. That journey will reveal to us who we are. The more we know about who we really are, the more we will struggle to serve and to spread peace. The relationship between bringing peace in our own existence and spreading peace in the world are interconnected.
We tend to define ourselves in a very limited manner, as a result of much involvement in social values that frame and imprison our souls. However if persons ask themselves who they are, they will not be satisfied with those limited definitions. They are not their positions, they are not their names, they are not what they own, yet they are not unanimous. They may be confused by defining themselves by where they were born, what religions they have. Still those definitions are not satisfactory. They are useful in social communication, but they do not answer that perennial question of who they are.  Deep in our hearts, we sense another dimension of self that is unique to each one of us, yet it is beyond limitations. The Self is sensed but cannot be defined. Sensing the Self is the gateway to inner peace. The Self sees its reflections in everything, and evoke love in the heart of humans. The Self harmonizes with the rhythm of divine law, and achieve a balance where peace becomes its expression.
Because we are spiritually connected, the great teachers of humanity are expressing the same path to inner peace in different words.
In Hinduism we read the following: 
Where there is separateness, one sees another, smells another, tastes another, speaks to another, hears another, touches another, thinks of another, knows another But where there is unity, one without a second, that is the world of Brahman. This is the supreme goal of life, the supreme treasure, the supreme joy. Those who do not seek this Supreme goal live on but a fraction of this joy.[3]
When wisdom is obscured by ignorance, But ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of the Self within. The light of this knowledge shines like the sun, revealing the supreme Brahman. Those who cast off sin through this knowledge absorbed in the Lord and established in him as their one goal and refuge, are not reborn as separate creatures.[4]
In Buddhism , it is written that :
"The person should look for peace within and not depend on it in any other place”[5]
Qur’an says: “We created you from one soul” ( HQ: )
Knowing the ‘Self” supports humans realize their connection to the whole. There is no ‘others’ as enemies. There are diverse ‘others’, but they are all connected. How would a person be able to harm another when one realizes that it is part of oneself? Peace overwhelms hearts that are connected to the whole. In the biblical and Qur’anic story of Abel and Cain, when Abel did not defend himself by attacking his brother, he was aware of the hidden connection. He was in peace from within himself. Cain did not have that same feeling, he saw himself as a separate soul. It is because of that his heart was filled with greed and jealousy, and he was never happy even after when he got what he wanted.
Abel Said: “.
"If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee” (5:27-30).
Prophet Muhammad was reported as saying:
“Take to compassion and abstain from oppression and obscenity. Compassion is grace and the lack of it a disgrace.[6]
He was also reported as saying:
“Those who maintain kinship with the detached, who continue to provide for those who let them down and willingly forgive their oppressors, shall indeed excel both in this world and the next”[7]
Jesus says: “"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mathew 5: 4? )
In conclusion, inner peace is achieved when people start seeing their connection to one another on a spiritual level. That connection is enforced when they realize that every thing is originated from one source, that history is collectively produced, and we are connected psychologically no matter where we are. Hence love overwhelms our own existence, and the road home to our inner peace will take place and is reflected in the whole world. We pray that those who know the way do their best to support love over hatred, so peace can prevail.
  1. That commitment prevailed during the aftermath of WW1 and WW2. Unfortunately, it has not been. So called Launching the war against terrorism in Iraq challenged the United Nation regulations, and challenged the international law. The US government succeeded partly in planting fear in its citizen and convinced them that W. Bush administration defends the highest interest of American people. It is through fear that we allow aggression to occur. It is because of fear and threat, terrorists are blindly hearting and killing innocent souls in the turning event of  9/11 2001, and in most recent attacks in Saudi Arabia, in Iraq, Palestine and Israel. When we loose peace in our heart, we tend to attack others.
  2. Baruch Spinoza
  3. Rihadaranyaka Upanishad
  4. Bhagavad-Gita 5:15-17
  5. Sutta Nipata
  6. The Prophet Muhammad, as reported by A'ishah bint Abi Bakr
  7. The Prophet Muhammad, as reported by 'Uqbah bin Amir